Bear kills woman camping in Montana after she got scared: Investigation

  • Leah Davis Lucan, 65, was killed by a grizzly bear while camping in Ovando, Montana, last year.
  • An investigation found that Lucan frightened the bear an hour before he returned and killed it.
  • The report said Lucan turned down an offer to stay in a hotel after she chased the bear away.

A woman was killed during a camping trip in Montana last year when a bear she had previously scared came back and attacked her while she was sleeping, according to an interagency investigation.

Leah Davis Lucan, a 65-year-old cyclist and retired California nurse, was killed by a bear in Ovando, Montana, in the early hours of July 6, 2021.

The 26-page report, published in late June, found that Lucan chased the bear an hour before he returned and killed it in her tent.

The report said Lucan, who was traveling with her sister, was sleeping alone in her tent behind a museum when the attack occurred.

The report said her sister was staying at a nearby hotel, but Lucan set up her tent next to a married couple named Joe and Kim Cole.

At about 3 a.m., she said, Lucan woke up when she “blowed” a 417-pound bear on its head from outside her tent. The report said she alerted Coles, who helped her scare the bear by making loud noises.

The report said Lucan removed food from her tent and armed herself with a can of bear spray.

Coles then asked her if she wanted to stay in a hotel room overnight, but she declined the offer and went back to sleep, the report said.

grizzly bear

A grizzly bear in Ovando, Montana, on July 6, 2021.

Grizzly Bear Interagency Committee


The report said that at around 4 a.m., Coles awoke to a noise that sounded like she had been attacked, although she made no noise.

They told officials they saw the dark figure of the bear “flip up and down” on Lucan and her tent while Joe was trying to scare her, the report said.

The report stated that the autopsy found that the bear had broken Lucan’s neck and cut her spine and that she was killed instantly. The report stated that the bear did not attack anyone else and ran away.

She added that DNA tests confirmed that the same grizzly bear also raided a chicken coop hours after the attack. The report stated that the bear, who was four to seven years old, was killed by officials several days later.

The report also included a remote camera image showing a bear that officials believe attacked Lucan.

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